Investigator Robert Mueller released his full report on the NFL’s investigation into the Ray Rice incident today, and concluded that no one from the league possessed or watched the in-elevator footage of Rice hitting his then-fiancée prior to it becoming public.
“We found no evidence that anyone at the NFL had or saw the in-elevator video before it was publicly shown,” reads the press release from Mueller. “We also found no evidence that a woman at the NFL acknowledged receipt of that video in a voicemail message on April 9, 2014.
“We concluded there was substantial information about the incident – even without the in-elevator video – indicating the need for a more thorough investigation,” the statement continues. “The NFL should have done more with the information it had, and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the February 15 incident.”
While Mueller chides the league for not pursuing information and evidence more aggressively, the report clears commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff of any more serious violations, and casts doubt on an Associated Press that suggested a female league employee confirmed receipt of the video in April. In the wake of the report’s release, Giants co-owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney II, who were overseeing the investigation, issued a statement reiterating their support of Goodell.
“This matter has tarnished the reputation of the NFL due to our failure to hand out proper punishments,” the statement reads. “It has been a wake-up call to all involved and we expect the changes that have been made will lead to improvements in how any similar issues are handled in the future…. It is clear to us that Commissioner Goodell was forthright in the statements he made to the owners about this matter, and we have every confidence that Roger Goodell is the right person to lead the league as we move forward.”
While it may come as no surprise that an NFL-led investigation conducted by a former NFL employee exonerates the league from any serious wrong-doing, it further strengthens Goodell’s position as a commissioner who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.